What would you get if you combined the wit of Lemony Snikett’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” with Harry Potter and tons of literary references? Well, hopefully something as astounding and enjoyable as N. E. Bode’s novel “The Anybodies.”
Switched at birth, Fern Drudger knows she has always been different than her two boring parents. Far from being boring, Fern is quite certainly more than different. She is extraordinary. One would even say magical.
As a young girl, odd things always happened to Fern. Once, as a child, she shook crickets out of a book and filled her room with them. Not magical enough for you? Well, when she was older still, drops of snow fell into her palm and formed into little pieces of paper with words on them. When she rearranged them to make sense, the sentence read: Things aren’t always what they seem are they?
Far from being amazed, the Drudgers discouraged such talk of nonsense. They were so boring their beige skin blended in perfectly with their beige walls. Ms. Drudger had a wonderful collection of flyers and they were both accountants. They would not put up with such ridiculous tomfoolery.
Fern always knew that this was not her home and wished that things would change. When Fern turns eleven, her wish is granted. She meets the Bone one evening and is informed that she was switched by accident at birth with another baby, a boy named Howard. The two families decide to swap children for the summer so that the two children can try out their new lives. This is the beginning of a marvelous adventure for Fern, although she does not know it at the time.
The Bone informs Fern that he is an Anybody, someone capable of changing their form into anybody and anything at whim. Only he is not a very good one. Fern’s mother on the other hand was a spectacular Anybody and the Bone hopes that Fern has some of her dead mother’s talents. The Bone needs Fern’s help in finding a special book called “The Art of Being Anybody.” With it, one could rule the world, if they chose to.
They have to find the book before The Miser, The Bone’s archenemy, can find it first. In the wrong hands, “The Art of Anybody” could be quite dangerous. As Fern embarks on her remarkable journey, she will learn a lot of who she is, where she came from and what she is destined to do.
In short, this book is absolutely incredible. Stupendous even. In fact, it is probably the best book I have read so far this year – and I read a lot. It’s got everything in it: magic, family secrets, revenge, odd characters. From the first page, I was enchanted and didn’t want to put it down. As soon as I finished it, I went right back to the first page and read it again.
What makes the book so wonderful is first and foremost, it’s writing style. Written in a style that is reminiscent of Lemony Snickett, it is witty, full of funny author interruptions and hilarity. The book takes the normal children’s fantasy novel and turns it upside down. Nothing is as it seems and it is fresh and crisp, wonderful reading.
The author even apologizes for having talking animals in the story. Another bonus, for those of us who have been given the pleasure of reading in our younger years, is the references to other classic children’s works.
There are references to over thirty different classic children’s books including “The Wizard of Oz,” “Charlotte’s Web” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends” to name a few. While reading along, see if you can count them all.
“The Anybodies” is a book about books and any book lover, child or adult, will enjoy flipping through its pages. I can’t wait for the sequel “The Nobodies” to come out next year. In the meantime, I will have to read “The Anybodies” again a few more times; and enjoy every blessed moment.